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Illicit Antiquity traffic on internet
Illicit traffic on internet. Appeal from ICOM, UNESCO and Interpol


PARIS – The illicit traffic of cultural property is currently one of the most lucrative criminal activities in the world. Every civilisation’s cultural heritage is universal and priceless, and the harm caused by illicit trafficking has disastrous repercussions, not only on peoples’ understanding of their history, and thus on their cultural identity, but also with regard to the future of all humankind.

ICOM, UNESCO and INTERPOL are all the more concerned about this plague since illicit trafficking in cultural property has increased at an alarming rate over the past several years through the Internet, where it is difficult for the national authorities to effectively monitor all of the objects offered for sale.

Aware of the gravity of the situation, the three organizations co-signed a letter covering Basic Actions concerning Cultural Objects being offered for Sale over the Internet which they pledged to disseminate to all UNESCO and INTERPOL States parties, as well as to ICOM’s national committees, regional and affiliated organizations. To this end, the letter has been translated into UNESCO’s six official languages which are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

This letter, which you will find herewith, sets out a checklist of the Basic Actions to counter the Increasing Illicit Sale of Cultural Objects through the Internet. For this common initiative to prove effective, it is imperative to communicate the letter to the concerned authorities in each country.

Your participation is essential to enable us to carry out this awareness-raising campaign. We are closely committed to fighting the illicit traffic of cultural property, and we are very grateful for your support.

Contact: Jennifer Thévenot
Programme Activities Officer
ICOM – International Council of Museums
Tel.: + 33.(0)

Check also: and

For further information :

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
A really great development! As well as forwarding the letter to the relevent authorities do you think it should be forwarded to some of the principal organisations that allow the potentially illegal movement of antiquities.

Primarily I'm thinking of e-bay, but I'm sure there are plenty of others. Of recent there have been a number of Roman lamps probably of north african origin, as well as scattered artefacts from around Britain (ie. RB pottery from Cambs, shield bosses from Lincs.)

Such organisations have exercised some moral judgement over profit before so perhaps they can be asked to prevent sale of some items without recourse to new legislation.

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